The victories continued for Florida Power & Light Wednesday as the House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee unanimously passed the House companion to a Senate bill that will allow the company to install transmission lines without following the City of Miami's development rules.
The bill, HB 1055, by Rep. Clay Ingram, R-Pensacola, overturns a Third District Court of Appeal ruling last year on behalf of the City of Miami, which ruled that the governor and the Cabinet — acting as the state siting board, which oversees power plants — failed to consider the city of Miami’s development rules when it approved FPL's plan to string 88 miles of line atop towers standing 80 to 150 feet high. The bill also clarifies that the Public Service Commission has exclusive authority to require that power lines be put underground.
Just as occurred in the Senate committee on Tuesday, the vote for HB 1055 happened with no debate and little discussion. David Childs, lobbyist for the Florida Electric Power Coordinating Group, was the only person to testify. He said the bill provides "important clarifications to ensure that the Power Plant Siting Act will continue to apply as it has historically occurred in this state."
In May 2014, the siting board signed off on the two controversial power lines and a backup plan as part of an approval for two proposed new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, the plans for which have since been delayed. The court found that the governor and Cabinet failed to take into account the damage done to wildlife and Everglades marshes by FPL building roads and concrete pads in a corridor that would cross fragile wetlands.The decision was challenged by the county and cities of Miami, South Miami and Pinecrest, which argued the board ignored local rules.
If the bill were to become law, FPL is expected to bring the issue back before the governor and Cabinet and it will likely get approval again.